Oceana Cruise Review by mriedlsp: Greek Islands Odyssey
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Greek Islands Odyssey
I am 73 and this cruise was to celebrate my wife's 70th birthday. My wife wanted to go on a luxury cruise for the sake of the experience and I was attracted by the port cities and beyond to see historic sights I had read about for years. This was a perfect choice. The Nautica was large enough to be very comfortable and yet we rarely had the feeling of being amongst the masses.
Our travel agent encouraged us to book Oceania cruises on the grounds that they were well-run and one really wanted to see what was available beyond walking distance from the points of disembarkation. From reading on-line reviews I realized that we could see quite a number of the places I wanted to see on our own, better and less expensively than booking the Oceania excursions. I will comment on what we did where below. An excellent policy of Oceania is that they let you cancel an excursion reservation up to 48 hours prior. We ended up taking only two of the many excursions we had booked in advance. More
Oceania has a great reputation for dining. Our evaluation was that the food was always good and in Polo Grill and Toscana many of the courses were outstanding. At least a third of our evening meals were outside in the informal Terrace at the stern of the ship. Buffet --- good--- with a WIDE selection of courses. Another thing that we really liked was that if we didn't finish a bottle of wine, we could just ask the staff to put it away for us and we were able to have it brought out at another meal. We particularly like the fact that you can go to the Grand Dining Room anytime you want. You can choose to sit with others at a table for 8. This is a great way to meet other people, or you can choose to have a quiet evening meal alone.
We also thoroughly enjoyed 2 for 1 drinks from 5-6 in the Horizons bar at the front of the ship. The view was great, frequently as we sailed out of a port. I enjoyed my double ouzo, befitting the location, and my wife ordered two glasses of wine, one which she took with her to dinner.
Finally, in the way of general comments, our concerns about washing clothes were unwarranted. The laundry is small, but if one thinks a bit about when it is likely to be less crowded, it was always possible to do our washing. The embarkation procedure in the Piraeus was well handled and the mandatory drill assembling at the life boats was the only time we felt that this was mass tourism. We set sail in the evening and at dinner in the Grand Dining Room accepted seating at a table with an Aussie couple with whom we hit it off and enjoyed a number of common experiences on the rest of the cruise. We anchored about 7 AM the next morning at
Port One: Nauplion.
We chose to do the Oceania excursion here to Mycene. This is a site that I have wanted to visit since I read about Arthur Schliemann in my second-year German reader over 50 years ago. At other archeological sites along the tour it was possible to find a guide at the entrance, so that setting up one's own excursion using a rental car was possible. I didn't notice any guide available here, so that might not be a possibility. The excursion guide was excellent and the group was small. Seeing the bee-hive tomb and the shaft graves where Schliemann thought he had found the death mask of Agamemnon was truly exciting.
At the end of the bus trip we also visited Palamidi Castle which has a gorgeous view of the bay. Port Two: Zakynthos
We reached Zakynthos by an over-night cruise, arriving around 7 AM. We were exhausted after a plane flight that had stretched from 1 PM on a Tuesday California time to 1AM on Thursday Athens time. The description of the port didn't sound particularly interesting and we didn't want to spend the money for one of the excursions, so we just spent the day on board -- did our laundry and read. The island appeared to be beautiful and I can imagine renting a car and driving around -- visiting some of the reputedly beautiful beaches.
See below for specific ports which cruise critic provides for on this form.
Port Five: Monemvasia.
We anchored here around 8 AM after a gorgeous cruise while it was still light from Corfu. The port itself is just a small town. A major reason for spending the day here is the opportunity to take a bus excursion to the Byzantine town of Mystras. This is certainly a worthwhile site to visit, but we had visited Mystras 25 years ago and chose to just spend the day in Monemvasia. The real attraction here is the walled-old town which sits along a gradually rising road above the water. The views were spectacular and it was a lovely way to spend the day. Less
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Cabin review: Oceana
Our cabin was fine. The bed was fantastic and I wish I could buy one for home. I am big man -- 6'1' --220 lbs and found the shower JUST barely large enough. The bathroom in general was small, but well laid out so that we were able to find places to put everything. My suitcase has large wheels and the space under the bed to store it was too low. My wife's more conventional suitcases fit fine.
Port and Shore Excursions
Here we decided to just walk the old town with our new Aussie friends and took a local bus to an overlook above the airport. We intended to stop at a beach on the way back, but walking to and from the bus and then getting back to town seemed too much of a hassle. We ended up back in town walking around. Here, also, I would think renting a car for a drive around this gorgeous island would have been a good way to have spent the day. Corfu Town is a great place for shoppers. We were not.
People who took the Oceania tour seem to have been happy they did.
It is actually the jumping-off point for a trip to Olympia. We had visited here twenty-five years ago in a pouring rain and were excited to see the ruins in brilliant sunny weather. We were not disappointed. This is an impressive and compact site devoted to the games and the religious institutions surrounding them. Furthermore, the archeological museum is outstanding.
We took the Oceania excursion here and again the group was small and the guide excellent. I believe it would be possible here to join a guided tour at the entrance and therefore travel by rental car to and from Katakolon for significantly less money than Oceania charges for the excursion.
The only thing I would caution is that our guide would take payment after the tour only in USD. I had been promised that I could pay with a credit card, but the guide said since it was a Sunday that she could only take cash. After our return I emailed Ekol and they said they would look into that.
It was a great day ---- 6 hours of walking and exhaustion.
My disappointment was that the archeological site at Akrotini was closed. I was informed it would be open again in 2011.
We didn't soak up much culture here, but the beauty of the place and the swim in the Aegean made it a day to remember.